Friday's Iranian presidential election down to a two-man race

By Mike Bambach   |   May 16, 2017 at 10:01 PM
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May 16 (UPI) -- Iran's presidential election became a two-man race Tuesday when the country's incumbent vice president and Tehran's mayor dropped out ahead of Friday's vote.

President Hassan Rouhani, a centrist reformer seeking a second term, received an endorsement from Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri, who withdrew from the race.

"To me, supporting Dr. Rouhani and voting for him is equal to supporting the mighty Iranian nation," Jahangiri said.

Meanwhile, Tehran mayor Mohammad Ghalibaf dropped out to back conservative rival Ebrahim Raisi, a close ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ghalibaf joined Raisi onstage at a rally Tuesday in Tehran and they clasped hands. "Bye bye, Rouhani," roared the crowd. "At the end of the week, Rouhani is gone."

Iranians go to the polls Friday in what is expected to be a tight race. With Iran's economy stagnant, Rouhani has struggled to reach 50 percent in the polls.

Ghalibaf and Raisi clashed with Rouhani during last Friday's nationally televised debate.

Raisi and Ghalibaf have criticized Rouhani for not delivering on the promises he made when his administration signed the nuclear deal with the United States and other major powers.

Rouhani and Jahangiri have claimed if the hardliners return to power the country will revert to suffocating security atmosphere.

Rouhani also picked up endorsements from former reformist president Mohammad Khatamai and two-time Oscar-winning film director Asghar Farhadi.

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